Monday, September 11, 2006

The Long Term Effects of 9/11

On Friday I watched all the documentaries listed in the previous post back-to-back.

I was so depressed when they were done I could barely function. It made me remember the weeks after 9/11 when I thought life would never go back to "normal". I was having terrible nightmares. Crying spells at unpredictable times. I was a mess. I really didn't understand what was going on with me. I didn't know anyone that died that day, but I felt it so acutely. I decided it must have been because The Man and I were so close. We should have been in NYC that day. We had planned to be taking a "skyscraper tour" but changed plans at the last minute and went to a beach in New Jersey. We watched the attacks live on CNN ("Is this happening live?! IS THIS LIVE?!") and then watched smoke pour down the horizon line from the inconceivable tragedy that was happening just 100 miles from beach where we stood.

After watching those documentaries many of the same feelings returned. I didn't want to talk to anyone or go anywhere... I decided to look up what the lasting effects on Americans (especially those of us on the East Coast) were. DO we all have a touch of PTSD from this? Will that heartache ever really go away?

I found an interesting article:

"Mental-health experts feared unprecedented psychological damage from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But five years later, mounting evidence from the most-studied emotional trauma the nation has faced suggests that people were more resilient than expected, though thousands who were closest to the disaster still need help.

Despite widespread concerns among mental-health professionals that the constant exposure to sights and sounds on television and other media in the days after the attacks would widen their impact, surveys and other studies over the past five years suggest that damage to the national psyche was limited and short-lived.

"There was a lot of concern about the prevalence of serious emotional responses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], after the attacks. It looks as though it was widespread, but not prolonged," said Dr. David Spiegel, a professor of psychology and behavioral sciences at Stanford University who tracked the emotional fallout of 9/11 through an Internet-based survey.

At least one national study done two months after the attacks found that those who spent more hours watching coverage of the assaults were more prone to have symptoms of PTSD: flashbacks of the event; avoidance of things that recall the trauma, or irritability and sleep disturbances from being in a state of constant alert.

Surprisingly few people, even those who were in Manhattan, mark the events of 9/11 as a particular milestone in their lives, another study shows.

"Just because there's a shocking and dramatic news story doesn't mean everything is different," said Dr. Norman Brown, a psychology professor at the University of Alberta in Canada. He found that few people, even in New York, mark dates like weddings and births in context of the attacks. "People feel bad for a few days, maybe a few weeks, they may feel insecure, but on the other hand, almost everybody continues to go on with their own lives." (Read the Entire Article)

This article would suggest that I am the minority here, which surprised me. Maybe I did watch too much coverage... The paradox is that I want to remember. I don't ever want that ache to go away...

"We have to remember September 11th in its reality, much the same way we have to remember other horrific events in our history because somehow I think it pushes the human consciousness toward finding ways to avoid this in the future. But if you censor it too much, if you try to find too many euphemisms for what happened, then I think you rob people of the ability to actually relive it and therefore motivate them to prevent it from happening in the future." ~Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani

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